I decided that after having owned the Hero 187 fountain pen for two years and getting more experience with using fountain pens, I should contribute something back to FPN, where I found a thread that convinced me to buy it in the first place. Had I read a review like this, I might have reconsidered my purchase.
A bid of background: I currently own the Hero 187, a Charcoal Lamy Safari Medium, a Jinhao Dragon's Descendant, a HaoLiLai 801F, many Pilot Varsity pens, a Reform pen (unknown model, est worth $125), and several Reform 1745 pens from JJBlanche - one of which I modified to accept Gillott 303 nibs. Basically, I own several lower tier pens and several Chinese Pens. Now that you have some context for my experience and opinions, onto the review:
Appearance and Design: 8/10
This is what drew me to the pen in the first place. I saw it listed on isellpens.com and immediately thought it was an attractive pen. The black on brown pattern was unique enough to be interesting, but subdued enough not to make me seem like a snob. Two years later, that still holds true - I still think this is quite a well designed and attractive pen from an aesthetic point of view.
Weight and Ergonomics: 6/10
Capped, the pen feel quite hefty. Uncapped, the pen feels quite light and comfortable. I could write all day with it unposted, but the pen is too unbalanced to use when posted, in my opinion. I consider the Lamy Safari and Reform 1745 to be ideally balanced when posted.
The pen also has a band just above the nib and below the section that traps ink that seeps in from the feed (or while I'm filling the pen). If I'm not careful, the band leaves an ink stain on my middle finger - poor ergonomic design. The HaoLiLai 801F and Dragon's Descendant also have this unfortunate feature.
Filling System: 5/10
The Hero 187 comes with a proprietary squeeze fill converter.. I don't like that I can't see how much ink is remaining, and I think that it is narrow enough that it traps ink in the wrong side of the converter, thus prematurely drying out my pen. I replaced it with a short international piston converter - the long converter and the proprietary Hero piston don't fit it.
The Nib: 8/10
Poor. The ink chipped away where I used to post the pen, and started to chip away from the cap. I guess I should have kept it on my desk instead of my jeans pocket.
The metal component that keeps the section attached to the barrel became unstuck to the barrel. Krazy Glue didn't work to keep it attached, so I'll have to try another kind of adhesive to repair it.
While the nib is quite nice and the pen itself is pretty, it is certainly not built to last. I'm disappointed that it started to fall apart already, especially because I bought this, my first fountain pen, under the impression that pens are supposed to last a lifetime. I guess this pen lives up to the unfortunate stereotype of shoddy Chinese pens. Nonetheless, all I usually have to do is push the metal section back into the barrel and retighten the section-barrel threads. I'm now curious about the QC and durability on the Hero 100 Stainless, as I have been eying that as of late for a plain workhorse pen.
Would I buy the Hero 187 again knowing what I know now? No. The HaoLiLai 801 F is nearly as flexible, and more tightly manufactured. I've also discovered that dip pens give the best flex, and I rather like my Reform 1745/Gillott 303 Frankenpen combo. The 187 model that I received was well made for the short term, but lacking in durability. The nib, while smooth, does not provide the line variation that I had hoped for unless I write with an uncomfortable amount of pressure.
What will I do with the pen now? I won't throw it out, that's for sure. I will probably use up what ink I have in it, and consign it to my desk drawer until the day I get curious as to why its been so long since I put this pen into my rotation....
Edited by MYU, 11 April 2009 - 23:52.